Degrading initiations: a phenomenon that goes beyond hockey

Degrading initiations: a phenomenon that goes beyond hockey

and Jessica Lapinski MISE À DAY

Hockey players forced to eat a slice of bread full of cum, but also a soccer player sodomized with a broomstick or a soccer player rushed to the hospital after being intoxicated with alcohol. 

Certainly, as Minister Isabelle Charest decried, the hockey community is “toxic”, but the testimonies gleaned by Le Journal over the past few days demonstrate that when it comes to degrading initiations, our national sport is not the only one to pale in comparison.

“I was stripped naked, leaving me only my underwear at my request. I was tied up hand and foot and dragged on my back like a calf,” said former fencer Sandro Di Cori, who was about to experience his first Canadian Championships in Ottawa earlier this week. 

“I was dragged into the elevator, knocked on all the doors to invite all the residents of the other floors to throw water at me. Glass, bucket, trash cans full of water. I asked and even begged for them to stop. But they were having way too much fun. Especially the instigator who I still remember seemed to enjoy tormenting me. »

Mr. Di Cori was only 16 when he suffered what he says developed in him a “sense of distrust” that continues today.

Not a surprise  

The fencing enthusiast, who retired from the sport in 2000, opened up following the unveiling of the details surrounding the class action lawsuit filed by former hockey players Daniel Carcillo, Garrett Taylor and Stephen Quirk against the Canadian Hockey League and its 60 teams. 

Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Perell dismissed the claim which covered a 50-year period, but said he believed the 19 alleged victims. 

Several of the former -hockey players who gave disconcerting testimonies played in a junior league in the country in the early 1980s. 

But some alleged facts date back less than 10 years and some of the recruits were as young as 14. These did not surprise the athletes, coaches or psychologists to whom Le Journal spoke. 

“I come from the hockey world and this are things we heard about. I have never experienced or suffered them, but these stories, we heard them, ”pointed out Dany Bernard, the founder of the hockey sports-study program in Quebec, who is also a doctor in sports psychology.

Mr. Bernard also finds it difficult to explain these hazing rituals. “It's beyond me that we can think that such initiations will solidify the team spirit”, he hammered. 

Bad way to integrate

Dr. Linda S. Pagani, professor at the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal and researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine, also blames the counter-productivity of coercive rites. 

“It's a bad way to integrate someone who worked so hard to get into a group,” she said. 

Dr. Pagani points out that “welcoming rites in the world of sport are very often led by testosterone”. 

“We then witness events where there is a strong dominance and abuse of power”, explains the one who is also a researcher at Sports Canada.

The group effect 

Women are not spared , as shown by these examples (see other text) from Quebec, but also from the rest of Canada, the United States and Europe. 

Joëlle Carpentier, doctor of psychology and professor at the School of Management Sciences at UQAM, believes that these rituals are often caused by a group effect.  

“Rare are those who would do the same outside of the initiation context, she noted. There is a loss of consciousness. [The attackers] depersonalize the gestures, because it is a group. » 

Long-term consequences

And according to the psychology experts surveyed, the consequences can be numerous, both in the short and in the very long term. The impacts are often underestimated. 

“I feel sorry for the young people who have suffered this. It is degrading for them, for hockey and for the sport. It’s sad on all levels,” added Dr. Dany Bernard.

The latter believes that the solution comes largely from the coaches, who must supervise their young people. “I remain convinced that team sports are a wonderful means of education. But if we use them to distort, it will also distort in a formidable way… » 

– With the collaboration of François-David Rouleau 

►Furthermore, the QMJHL announced yesterday that it will participate in special consultations and public hearings of the National Assembly as part of the mandate relating to revelations of violence during initiations in the world of junior hockey and the possible situation in other sports. 

Cases everywhere, in all team sports

In 2005, heavy sanctions fell on the McGill University football team. An 18-year-old recruit, D'Arcy McKeown, claimed to have been sodomized by a broom during his initiation, in a ritual called “Dr. Broom”, practiced by veterans and which, apparently, had been going on for years. No criminal charges have been filed, but the University has locked down its football program for part of the season to punish the culprits. Almost 20 years later, it is clear that this decision has not discouraged athletes here and elsewhere from subjecting them to degrading initiations. 

The torture of the slice of bread  

The story goes back to before the facts of McGill, but it lifts the heart. In the early 2000s, veterans of a Midget AAA hockey team in the Quebec City region allegedly forced recruits – aged 15 or 16 – to undergo an initiation with sexual and repugnant connotations. 

The facts were reported to the Journal not by a victim or a witness, but by a friend of the young players who was speechless when told about the scene.
new ones were in the shower, around a slice of bread. They had to come [cum] on the slice of bread as soon as possible. The last had to eat it. »

“My friends thought it was stupid and disgusting, but to them it was guy jokes. It was commonplace, it was the norm. Except they didn't have fun.

Rushed to hospital

Another soccer player, this time from Carleton University in Ottawa, had to be taken to hospital by ambulance after being forced to drink a large amount of alcohol during an initiation ritual, 2009. According to a spokeswoman for the university establishment, the party, which began in a private residence, moved to a bar. The young players had to “drink an excessive amount of alcohol” and submit to “degrading” drinking games. The team was suspended for two games, in addition to having to prepare meals for a local food bank. 

At McGill University, again 

Both the men's and women's basketball teams at McGill University have been on probation for many months, if not an entire season, after initiations went wrong 10 years after the campus football club was suspended. Under pressure from older teammates, a player says he was forced to drink large amounts of alcohol. He said he got so intoxicated that he was found asleep in his vomit by a friend. According to his account, sex games were also organized with members of the female team, who were scantily clad. 

Drizzled with urine while naked 

A soccer player from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque found herself hospitalized after an initiation ritual gone wrong in 2014. According to her lawyer, the athlete, whose name has not was revealed, was forced to drink large amounts of alcohol. Like some of her teammates, the young woman also had to undress, before being sprayed with urine. A basketball coach from another New Mexico university, New Mexico State University, was fired this week. Some Greg Heiar players have reportedly been involved in initiation rituals, which is strictly prohibited on campus. 

Soon to be banned by law in Kentucky?

While several organizations and leagues have banned initiations in recent years, they may soon be prohibited by law in Kentucky if they involve minors or students. A bill, named in honor of Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood, was introduced in the past week. Hazelwood died last year after drinking a large amount of alcohol during a hazing ritual at a University of Kentucky fraternity. Anyone involved in an initiation that leads to serious injury or death could face a prison sentence. Currently, similar laws are in place in 13 US states.